Wow! We covered so much incredible information at our August 12 event, Travel Bloggers’ Secrets You Can Use. Our three amazing panelists, Tamara Gruber of We3Travel, Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, and Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend in Paris shared invaluable insights about blogging, marketing, monetizing, and, of course, traveling. We wanted to put together a couple of posts summing up all the best tips for any of you who might not have been able to make it or any #NIMRI members who want to refresh on what they learned. Part 1 will cover a little bit of background about our panelists and their top blogging tips. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
How They Got Started
Tamara Gruber: “After a family trip, I was telling a friend everything I’d learned about traveling as a family, and she said ‘you should share this,'” explained Tamara. And thus We3Travel was born. Tamara Gruber’s blog centers around family travel and her family of three have traveled all over the world, from the cathedrals of Europe to the rainforests of Costa Rica. We3Travel was recently named one of the Top 20 Family Travel Blogs in 2015 by Holiday Lettings (a company owned by TripAdvisor). “I try to research trips and make itinerary suggestions that everyone can get something out of,” said Tamara, “Showing kids the world is a gift that we give to them.”
Lillie Marshall: “I started at age 27, sleeping in $10 broom closets because I wanted to travel the world,” said Lillie. Around the World “L” which began in 2009, has covered everything from nomadic budget traveler trips to luxury family travel, now that its creator, Lillie Marshall, is married with a young son (and another on the way! Congrats Lillie!!). She works as an English teacher in Boston, and runs TeachingTraveling.com, a blog that interviews “Teacher-Travelers.” Lillie has one of the largest social media followings of any teacher in the world and Around the World “L” has been consistently selected for Top 100 Travel Blog rankings. She was also recently invited to attend White House Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Engagement.
Priscilla Pilon: “When I first started writing my blog I didn’t realize other people could see it. I made it for my friends and family. The first time I got a comment from a stranger, I was like ‘who is this?!’,” laughed Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend In Paris. Priscilla has traveled the world, but is an admitted Paris addict. In addition to her own blog, she is the Travel Editor for The Daily Basics (the editor of which she actually met at a #NIMRI event!), as well as a contributor for Upscale Living Magazine, The Daily Meal, and Travel Squire.
Top 6 Blogging Tips
1. Preferred Platform: Lillie, Tamara and Priscilla all recommend WordPress as a blogging platform. “You can really create your own identity since there are so many themes to choose from and they’re so easy to customize,” said Lillie, “and there are so many useful plugins!”
2. Traversing the Themes: Sifting through the bazillion or so WordPress themes can be a bit intimidating but it helps if you know want you want it to look like. Magazine-ish? Newspaper-ish? Word-driven? Photo-driven?
“Your theme must work with Google Analytics. Some older themes don’t,” Priscilla warned, “So, to be safe, don’t choose one that’s more than 3 years old. It also must be mobile responsive. If it isn’t it will be downgraded by Google.” In addition, 80% of internet users access the web through their smartphone. That is big chunk of your target audience who wouldn’t be able to access your website. However, if you already have an older WordPress site you don’t want to change, or you totally fall in love with an older theme the WP touch plugin can make it mobile responsive.
3. Camera of Choice: Priscilla uses a Nikon D5300, but many bloggers, including Lillie and Tamara, are moving from a big DSLR to smaller mirrorless cameras. Lillie chose the Sony Alpha 5100, and Tamara has both a Mirrorless Olympus and a Go Pro. “I also love to use my iPhone!” exclaimed Tamara.
4. A Word For Every Thousand Pictures (wait, that’s not right) : “People are captivated first by a photo,” Priscilla explained, “I like to pick the pictures first, then write the story. I took 8,000 photos on my recent trip to Africa and narrowed that down to about 20 for my article. Obviously you can’t fit all of your pictures in one post, but it is nice to build up a big media library so you can share the other photos on social media or in a later article.”
5. Feelings on Freelancing: “I think freelancing can be a little bit dangerous because you are putting all of this effort into someone else’s site. However, it’s different for everyone, and some people get a lot out of it,” Lillie said.
“I focused first on building my own blog and my own presence before moving into freelancing,” explained Tamara.
“You can get some street cred if you’re writing for other sources, but you have to have a thick skin. I was sending out 20 pitches and getting 19 no’s and 1 positive response. It makes you doubt yourself, but once you get going and they know your reputation, you’ll get 19 yes’,” shared Priscilla, “Just make sure you promise appropriately and over-deliver. Also, be on time!”
6. Share with Care: It isn’t a good idea to post things live in case of stalkers, and never post pictures of children without their parent’s permission. “I write about family travel, but for the longest time I didn’t use my daughter’s name,” shared Tamara, “Finally, it became too awkward writing ‘my daughter’ over and over, but it is something to be cautious about.”
“Make sure that what you’re posting is not traceable to you or where you live, and that it’s appropriate,” advised Lille, “Beware of geo-tagging!”
Next week our travel bloggers top marketing/monetizing and travel tips!
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Parlor Kitchen & Bar